Covid-19 related scam advice

Criminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to try and get their hands on your money and personal information. To date, Action Fraud has received reports from 2,378 victims of Coronavirus-related scams, with the total losses reaching over £7 million.
How you can protect yourself from Coronavirus-related scams:
There are some simple steps you can take that will protect you from the most common Coronavirus-related scams. Here’s what need to do:

1 – Watch out for scam messages
Your bank, or other official organisations, won’t ask you to share personal information over email or text. If you receive an email you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS): report@phishing.gov.uk

2 – Shopping online
If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, for example, by checking to see if others have used the site and what their experience was. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, other payment providers may not provide the same protection.

3 – Unsolicited calls and browser pop-ups offering tech support
Never install any software, or grant remote access to your computer, as a result of a cold call. Remember, legitimate organisations would never contact you out of the blue to ask for financial details such as your PIN or full banking password.

NHS Test and Trace scams:

The NHS Test and Trace service plays an important role in the fight against coronavirus and it’s vital the public have confidence and trust in the service. However, we understand the concerns people have about the opportunity for criminals to commit scams.

What you need to know:

Contact tracers will only call you from the number 0300 013 5000. Anyone who does not wish to talk over the phone can request the NHS Test and Trace service to send an email or text instead, inviting them to log into the web-based service.

All text or emails sent by NHS Test and Trace will ask people to sign into the contact tracing website and will provide you with a unique reference number. We would advise people to type the web address https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk directly into their browser, followed by the unique reference number given to you, rather than clicking on any link provided in the message.

The NHS Test and Trace service will never:

  • ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to them (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product or any kind
  • ask for any details about your bank account
  • ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
  • ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
  • ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
  • ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS

If you think you have been a victim of fraud, please report it to Action Fraud at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. If you live in Scotland, please report directly to Police Scotland by calling 101.​​​​​​​

Be tech savvy

I strongly encourage our residents to make the most of our new technology to stay and in touch and connect. Use email, apps and the Internet to stay informed.

But Cyber crime is on the rise. I want to give some advice:

  • Never click on links you receive from unknown contacts or sources via SMS, email, or messenger applications such as Skype or WhatsApp. Even if you think you know the sender, take a closer look at the sender’s address and the link itself. If anything looks odd, steer clear. Malicious links are one of the most common ways to distribute malware.
  • Don’t click on adverts that seem too good to be true. An ad offering you something abnormally great, is likely to be a scam
  • Use strong passwords for all your online accounts, something only you could know. Use a mixture of symbols, numbers, upper and lower cases and aim for 10 to 15 characters in length. If this seems daunting, try using a reputable password manager or random password generator to help.

There is a good online course we all can do free of charge to help us determine the issue.

Please visit the Cyberhood Watch page for more advice on how to keep yourself, your loved ones and your communities safe: https://www.avast.com/uk-cyberhood#pc

Support during COVID-19

If you wish to support those affected by Corona Virus please register via the central register  on this webpage. If you have ideas on how to improve things please email: covid19@towerhamlets.gov.uk

General council webpage links and advice on http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/coronavirus

Help for Victims of abuse against women and girls can rely on getting help. If you are in an emergency call 999, if you cannot speak on the phone press 55, which refers your call to a specialist helper who will assist you.

Local support:

  • Tower Hamlets Victim Support IDVA 020 7364 7957/2448 (Monday to Friday 9-5)
  • Victim Support 0808 1689 111 (24 hours)
  • Tower Hamlets Crisis Intervention Service 020 3222 4027 (Monday to Friday 9-5; and weekends 10am-6pm)
  • Legal advice regarding domestic abuse and family law, such as non-molestation orders, child arrangements or divorce – Bowling & Co. Solicitors family@bowlinglaw.co.uk 020 8221 8000 in emergency 07464 925 083
  • Tower Hamlets VAWG Team 0800 279 5434 (Monday to Friday 9-5) or email domestic.violence@towerhamlets.gov.uk
  • Tower Hamlets Housing Options Service Team (HOST) will no longer have a drop-in service. For those at risk of homelessness contact HOST on 020 7364 7474 Monday to Friday 9-5 or after 5pm the emergency number 020 7364 4079
  • Adult Safeguarding team 020 7364 5005
  • Children Safeguarding team 020 7364 3444

National Support

  • National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247; 7 days a week 24 hours
  • LGBT specialist advice on 0800 999 5428 (Monday to Friday 10am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 4pm or email help@galop.org.uk
  • Specific Men’s Advice line 0808 801 0327 Monday – Friday
    • 9am – 8pm Monday & Wednesday
    • 9am – 5pm Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
    • email info@mensadviceline.org.uk
  • Women’s Aid online support service https://chat.womensaid.org.uk/
    • Monday – Friday 10am – 12 pm
  • Hestia provides a free-to-download mobile app, Bright Sky, which hides as a weather app but provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.

Other VAWG support

  • Girls aged 14+ or woman and have been a victim of sexual assault you can contact
    • Rape Crisis 0808 802 9999; 12pm – 2.30pm and 7pm-9.30pm each day.
    • for victims age 16+ use the Live online Chat helpline Monday – Friday.
  • Beyond the Streets, support for women who are involved in prostitution 0800 133 7870 or email support@beyondthestreets.org.uk
  • Female Genital Mutilation FGM Engagement Service 020 7377 8725 (Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm.
  • Forced Marriage Unit 020 7008 0151 or email fmuoutreach@fco.gov.uk
  • Stalking and Harrassment 0808 802 0300 Monday – Friday 9.30am – 4pm except for Wednesday when it is open 1pm – 4pm.
  • Trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation 08000 121 7000

Perpetrators of abuse who want help

If you are worried how you are treating your partner or family member and want to stop your behaviour, you can contact Respect on 0808 802 4040 or email info@respectphoneline.org.uk

Beware of Corona Virus scams

corona-mobile-scamPeople are receiving text messages on their phones to follow a link to claim a Corona Virus support payment. Such messages are always scam.

Scammers simply start websites and ask people to come onto them and provide personal and banking details.

Please do not follow such links whether you receive such messages per text, email, phone or personal callers. Do not provide financial or personal details to fraudsters. Generally do not click links inviting you to take part in research for Disease Control.

Free school meals scam. The only official guidance on free school meals during schools closures is available on the official website page

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance

If in doubt contact your school or councillors.

vulnerable residents – volunteers

I urge all elderly and vulnerable residents not to open the doors to callers, unless they got an appointment.

Fraudsters are urging the elderly to let them help with shopping and ask them for bank details. Do not give your bank details to anybody.

About 1.5 Million vulnerable residents are about to get letters from the government urging them to stay at home for about 12 weeks.

Local councillors are setting up groups to help local, vulnerable residents. You will be contacted or can contact your councillor Eve McQuillan for Bethnal Green.

Email:  Eve.McQuillan@towerhamlets.gov.uk
Mobile:  07594 828420

Other local councillors will be available in each ward.

I understand that the government will guarantee food deliveries for vulnerable residents during the isolation period.

Anybody who can volunteer to help please sign up at the Tower Hamlets volunteer bank.

I want to urge all to stop stock-piling. Accumulating lots of paper or cooking oil can increase your fire risks and dry foods can get infected with pests. Also clearing shelves and buying as much as possible doesn’t help those who need to find things in our shops, please only buy what you need.